How Frequently Should You Change Your Blog's Theme?

Some of the biggest decisions bloggers face involve their blog theme. Should you change your theme? Should you pay for a premium theme or a custom theme? What should you look for in a new theme ?

With so many free themes readily available (especially for WordPress users) you could literally change you theme everyday if you wanted to. While the availability of themes is a major plus for WordPress users, it can also make some of these decisions more difficult.

First, you need to consider how the theme impacts the blog in the following ways:

1. Branding

Blogs that have been effectively branded have typically used a blog theme as part of their branding strategy. How does your current theme contribute to the branding of your blog? Will changing your theme result in the loss of some of the benefits that you have developed over time in building your brand?

If your blog does have an established brand but you feel it is time for a theme change, consider creating a new theme that will still feature many of the same recognizable elements as your current theme. For example, consider using the same logo, color scheme, layout style, etc. while giving the theme some updates to improve the look. On the other hand, sometimes a drastic change can be good too. It’s a decision that should be thought out by considering what you have to gain and what you could potentially lose.

2. Uniqueness

With so many blogs out there, and so many of them using the same free themes or very similar themes, a unique look is valuable. By changing your theme will you make you blog more or less unique? If you currently use a free theme and you are moving to a premium theme or a custom theme, chances are you will be improving the uniqueness. Blogs that are at least somewhat unique are more likely to be remembered by visitors, so this factor should always be considered. Of course, if you are using a commonly-used free theme you can always make it stand out a little bit more by using a custom logo or a unique header image/photo.


3. Appearance

Obviously, your theme will be the single most influential factor in the overall quality of appearance for your blog. Will the new theme really be an improvement in quality, or is it just something new? Be sure that if you are going to change themes you are getting improvement in some area of appearance.

4. Usability

Different themes will have varying levels of usability for readers. Your current readers may be used to your theme and where they need to go to find what they are looking for. Will a new theme be more difficult for them to use? You may need to make some adjustments or customizations to a theme to achieve a level of usability that both you and your visitors will be happy with. The usability can be even more important than appearance. If there are significant changes, consider writing a post that will explain where everything is and how to use the new theme.

5. Functionality

There are some areas of functionality that are always important for blogs. Where are the subscription links? Is there a search function? Is there room for advertisements if you are interested in selling ad space? These are all things that should be considered any time you are thinking of changing themes. Also, many blogs display featured content in prominent areas. Some bloggers achieve this by simply linking to popular posts in the sidebar, but others do so by placing links to featured content in other areas, such as the header. If this is something that works well for you, make sure that any new theme you consider will allow you the same possibilities.

Factors to Consider:

1. Will the new theme help you to increase the income that is produced by the blog?

If you are making money with your blog (or if you will be after the new theme is implemented) you should consider spending some money on a premium theme or a custom theme. Making some money with the blog will obviously offset the costs of the theme, plus a better or more effective theme may help you to increase the earning potential of the blog.

2. How does your current theme stack up? How does it meet your needs?

There are too many themes out there to settle for one that doesn’t adequately meet your needs. If other themes will be more effective for you, consider making a change.

3. What are your blogging goals?

Your goals should always be factored into your decisions about blog themes. Are you aiming to be a Technorati Top 100 blog? If so, you’ll most likely need to get a high-quality, unique theme. If your goal is simply to communicate with readers and you’re not concerned with making money, why not stick with a free theme? Take a look at your goals, and decide how a theme will help you to meet those goals.

4. When was the last time you changed themes?

Most bloggers like to change themes every now and them, plus it keeps things fresh and interesting for readers. If it’s been two years since you changed themes, you may want to seriously consider a new one. If it’s only been two weeks since your last change, you’ll probably be better off staying with the same one for a while. This is a pretty obvious question to consider, but what you really need to evaluate is whether or not your blog needs a fresh look.

5. How long will the new theme be effective?

If you are hoping to significantly increase your readership over the next several months, be sure that any theme you choose today will still be sufficient when that time comes. Don’t choose a theme that you will need to change again in a month or two when your blog reaches a new level.

6. Can you keep certain elements to make it recognizable?

If your blog has an established audience, you most likely will want to keep some elements from your current theme to make the new theme still recognizable for visitors. Will you be able to use the same logo or color scheme?

What’s Your Opinion?

What other factors do you think are important? How often do you think a theme should be changed?

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24 Responses

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  • Tom Beaton, February 13, 2008

    I think no more than once a year. It depends on changes in the blogs needs though. Time should in general be spent on producing content not redesigning.

  • Wayne Liew, February 14, 2008

    For me, every level that a blog went into needs a new theme. For example, a blog in its introudctory stage and its matured stage should have different themes. Other than helping a blog to get off the plateau platform, it also helps freshen things up.

  • Ruchir Chawdhry, February 14, 2008

    I think you shouldn’t change your blog’s theme more than once a year. Also you should consider changing if you want to expand your monetizing options…

  • nickygreen, February 14, 2008

    once a year – no more.

  • Madhur Kapoor, February 14, 2008

    I think changing themes once every 6 months is ok.

  • Vandelay Design, February 14, 2008

    Tom,
    I agree that content is more important to a blog than design.

    Wayne,
    That’s an interesting point. Thanks.

    Ruchir,
    Yes, monetization should play a role in your choice of a theme.

    Thanks everyone for your input on the timing of changes. I appreciate it.

  • Sir Pavlow, February 14, 2008

    in my opinion theme must be developed by using proper design but never it shouldn’t change completely, because this condition can affect to readers negatively.

  • Philippine Web Design, February 15, 2008

    i do once a year. my brother changes theme every quarter.

  • Dito, February 15, 2008

    Im using an open source theme while i take my time to design my blog to look like the rest of my site

  • Suffian, February 17, 2008

    I just changed my blog theme. I was just bored with the old skin. Haha. How entirely random! I do agree, however, that for the sake of branding and consistency, a blog theme should be maintained for at least 9-12 months. How often do you think we should change our blog’s header graphics? I change the background image on my blog header almost every fortnight.

  • RooYo, February 18, 2008

    I think you shouldn’t change your blog’s theme more than once a year.

  • Vinh Le, February 23, 2008

    I will answer from a web designer’s perspective. Every 6 months or so I think I would have improved a whole lot in terms of skill in graphics design, coding, usability, and new techniques so I would consider that a good time to redesign the blog and update it to showcase my improved skills and other things I have learned along the way. I am in the middle of redesigning my blog as speak as well and the project excites me as there are so many things I would like to do in terms of graphics and increase functionality.

    Good article by the way.

  • Vandelay Design, April 2, 2008

    If I remember correctly I deleted your comment because of your language. And guess what, this one’s gone too for the same reason. It has nothing to do with whether you agree with my post or not.

  • Calvin, April 26, 2008

    My theme will only changed half year once. Need to consider the re-arrangement after change the theme.

  • Podatki, August 1, 2008

    I think you shouldn’t change your blog’s theme more than twice a year.

  • Theo R, December 27, 2008

    In my opinion, blog themes should only change when the reader or writer’s needs change. Jeffrey Zeldman is a popular blogger, yet he hasn’t changed his blog’s theme for quite a while – it’s still unique, and I still visit his site.

    Fair enough, people shouldn’t make drastic changes or theme changes every few months, but minor changes building up to a redesign may allow the reader to get used to new features prior to the site being ‘shaken up’ again.

    A good example of a blog theme which changed regularly was the old ShaunInman.com design (which, to my knowledge, can still be accessed through a link on the about page) – every day, the colour shade would change slightly, eventually showing the continuity between the seasons (e.g. blue shades for winter).

  • Premium Blog themes, January 13, 2009

    You have written very nice article sir . I have seen that if we keep changing our themes frequently than we face good loss in search engine rankings too . Its better to select one good theme and stick with it as long as you can .

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